White House Continues to Strip Due Process from Immigration Courts

Arguably no previous administration has been more hostile to the judiciary than the Trump administration. The president himself has aggressively criticized courts that have ruled against him, sometimes resorting to personal attacks calling specific judges “political,” “ridiculous,” “so-called” judges, even referencing a federal judge’s Mexican heritage.

In addition to the president’s own comments, his administration is apparently implementing a systematic plan to dramatically undermine judicial independence and due process in immigration cases. At a Nov. 1 hearing on the immigration courts, ranking Democrat John Conyers said new administration plans will turn the courts into “a forced march toward deportation.”

The White House immigration principles call for measures that will “ensure swift return of illegal border crossers” where “swift” appears to be a code word for eliminating the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee of due process. Attorney General Sessions has claimed that fraudulent asylum seekers are flooding the courts, but in fact, less than one out of five people who are removed ever get a fair day in court. The vast majority of people are removed singlehandedly by an immigration officer without any court review. Unable to make their case in court, asylum seekers, including children, have been wrongfully deported back to life-threatening dangers.

If the administration were committed to fairness, it would strengthen the courts and cut back on the use of summary removal procedures that bypass them, like expedited removal. Instead, the administration intends to do just the opposite.

On February 20, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to greatly expand the use of expedited removal to the entire region of the United States and to include people who have lived here up to two years. By itself this tactic will mean the rapid deportation of many more people, irrespective of family or other ties to our country, without any chance to appear before a judge for a full hearing. Mass deportations on a summary basis is not the ideal of justice envisioned by America’s Founders.

By Gregory CHen for THE HILL
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